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Abernathy Valley, Inc. v. County of Solano

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Five

April 17, 2009, Filed



 [**462]  STEVENS, J. 2—Abernathy Valley, Inc., is the current owner of land that is shown on a subdivision map recorded in 1909 pursuant to a 1907 statewide subdivision map law. Abernathy asked the County of Solano (County) to record a certificate of compliance with the Subdivision Map Act, Government Code section 66410 et seq., for one lot on the property. The County denied the application and Abernathy petitioned for a writ of mandate to compel the County to issue the certificate. The trial court granted the writ, ruling that the lot was grandfathered under Government Code section 66499.30, subdivision (d). We consider whether parcels depicted on the 1909 map are entitled to legal recognition under the Subdivision Map Act's grandfather clause. We reverse.


In 1909, the “Wm. Pierce Subdivision No. 1” map (Pierce Map) was filed with the Solano County Recorder. The map depicted a parcel of about 250 acres of land subdivided into 25 lots of about 10 acres each, with each lot identified by number. In a deed recorded in 2002, Abernathy Valley, Inc. (Abernathy), acquired lots 9 through 16 and lots 19 through 24 (which collectively comprised a single contiguous area of land), with the exception of parts of lots 20 and 21, which had previously been conveyed.

Abernathy applied for a certificate of compliance in accordance with Government Code section 66499.35 for “Lot 12 as shown on the [Pierce Map]” (Lot 12) on August 27, 2003. 3 The Office of County Counsel, on behalf of the Solano County Department of Environmental Management  [*46]  (Department), informed Abernathy by letter that the application could not be granted. According to county counsel, the Pierce Map did not fully comply with the laws in effect in 1909 so as to qualify for the grandfather provision of section 66499.30, subdivision (d), 4 and Abernathy had  [***3] not produced evidence that Lot 12 had ever been separately conveyed. The Department referred the application to the planning commission since it could not determine that the lot was clearly in compliance with subdivision map regulations. In March 2006, the planning commission voted to issue a certificate of compliance. The Solano County Board of Supervisors (Board) reviewed the commission's decision de novo and voted to deny the certificate, instructing county staff “to only approve those maps filed after the 1929 Map Act.”

Abernathy and Raymond Ferrari, a shareholder of Abernathy (hereafter collectively, Abernathy),  [**463]  filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking the issuance of an unconditional certificate of compliance. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1094.5.) In granting the writ, the trial court concluded the Pierce Map was grandfathered under the Subdivision Map Act since it complied with the 1907 subdivision map law in effect at the time it was filed and recorded and the 1907 law “regulat[ed] the design and improvement of subdivisions” within the meaning of the grandfather provision (§ 66499.30, subd. (d)).

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173 Cal. App. 4th 42 *; 92 Cal. Rptr. 3d 459 **; 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 575 ***

ABERNATHY VALLEY, INC., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. COUNTY OF SOLANO, Defendant and Appellant.

Prior History:  [***1] Superior Court of Solano County, No. FCS028581, Paul Lloyd Beeman, Judge.


map, parcels, recorded, grandfather, subdivision map, certificate of compliance, subdivision, compliance, regulating, local agency, certificate, real property, subdivide, complies, depicted, conveyed, improvements to the subdivision, retrospectively, dedication, highways, lease, parcel map, final map, planning commission, grandfather clause, local ordinance, governing body, unconditional, conveyance, statewide

Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Substantial Evidence, Real Property Law, Subdivisions, State Regulations, Civil Procedure, Appeals, De Novo Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Effect & Operation, Retrospective Operation